2019 was hot. Really hot.
In fact, we just lived through the second-hottest year ever recorded, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, the European Union’s flagship climate monitoring organization.
The only year in recorded history the planet has experienced that was hotter was 2016, and only by a hair — just 0.04 degrees Celsius.
The past five years and the last decade (2010-2019) were the warmest ever recorded, the report found, and 2019 was the hottest year Europe has ever endured.
The report found that global average temperatures over the last five years were between 1.1 and 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average, putting the planet perilously close to the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.
Scientists have warned that failing to cut human emissions of heat-trapping gases rapidly to hold global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius will trigger more extreme wildfires, floods and food shortages impacting hundreds of millions of people.
Nearly every region experienced above-average temperatures in 2019, but Europe, Australia, southern Africa and the Arctic felt particularly hot temperatures that were well above normal, the report says.
In Europe, heat waves in June and July shattered temperature records, with six different countries seeing all-time high temperatures — Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The extreme heat overwhelmed the cooling capabilities of some of the continent’s biggest cities and led to thousands of deaths.
In Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology announced that 2019 was the nation’s hottest and driest year on record, with average temperatures soaring to 1.52 degrees Celsius above average in 2019. Record-breaking heat in December helped fuel the massive wildfires that are still burning across huge swaths of the country.
And in the typically frozen Arctic, which is critical to regulating global temperatures, 2019 was another year of exceptional heat. No place else on Earth warmed more in 2019 than the Arctic and Alaska, when compared to the 1981-2010 average, the report found.
The report is just the latest evidence that the current trend of global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels shows no signs of stopping.
Global concentrations of carbon dioxide — the potent heat-trapping gas that is a key contributor to global warming — also continued to climb upward in 2019, increasing by approximately 2.3 parts per million.